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Reading My Library

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I'll be taking a break for the remainder of this week so just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

If you're looking for any last minute crafts, here are a few I found that are kinda fun (and different to me at any rate):

Finger Puppet Pilgrims. (With toilet paper rolls, of course!)

Thanksgiving Lacing Activity Cards.

Thanksgiving mazes (that you can print off when you are cooking and the kids are looking for something to do).

A Turkey Hunt Game (copied and pasted from the link given):

Turkey Hunt! Hunt quietly, you don't want to scare the turkeys...Prepare for the game by drawing or pasting turkey pictures on a dozen or so index cards - stickers will work as well.To play, everyone leaves the room except the leader. The leader hides the cards around the room. Hunters return and begin the hunt. As each turkey is found, it is brought back to the leader who corrals them in a separate pile for each hunter. When all the turkeys have been found, the hunter with the most turkeys is the winner and becomes the leader for the next round. Tip:Let your children make the cards before the Holiday. They'll find lots of magazine pictures and can color some as well!

And, of course, if you are looking for a book, might I recommend An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, by Louisa May Alcott. You can click on the title to read my review of it over at Reading to Know. It would make an excellent and very fun read aloud for kids ages 5 and up, I would think.

However, you are choosing to celebrate the day, and whoever you are spending it with - I hope you have a marvelous time!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Three Little Cajun Pigs

You can't even get started reading the Three Little Cajun Pigs,by Mike Artell until you read the glossary which explains the words and definitions used in this spin off from the classic Three Little Pigs tale. This book is filled with words like "couchon de lait" and "derriere." As a further explanation, the author offers this additional note:

"The rhyming scheme for Three Little Cajun Pigs emphasizes the second, fifth, eighth, and eleventh syllables. Example: In SOUTH Loo-si-AN-a, where GA-tors
grow BIG Live T'REE Cajun PIGS and an OL' mama PIG."

Mama pig gives her boys some food and sends them off into the great big world to make their own homes. They head out and find some free straw which attracts one of the pig brothers. Then they find some tree limbs that need to be hauled away which attracts the second pig brother. Of course, you know the third pig builds his house with some bricks which the two other siblings thinks is way too much trouble. While the pigs are building and playing, an alligator named Claude (as opposed to a wolf, of course) is keeping an eye on them.

"Claude crawl out de water and hide in de grass,
And sit dere and wait 'till dem first two pigs pass.
Den Claude jump in front of dem pigs and he say,
"I t'ink dat it's time for some couchon de lait!"
This book is a romp down south, that's all. It's good for a laugh and some fun. Of course, not everyone can make a trip south to experience the language, food and fun first hand but to give you a taste, here is some help.

Here's a kid-friendly recipe for Grilled Cajun Catfish.

Or, for something a tad bit easier, here is a collection of Gumbo recipes to suit everyone from the vegetarian to those who wouldn't give the three pig brothers a second thought!

Here are some Cajun Country Fun coloring pages.

And lastly, you really can't experience the south unless you experience some of the music. I'm not a huge, huge fan of Seasame Street, but here's a cute (or perhaps offensive, depending on how you look at it!) muppet rendition of Zydeco music (if you can take it):

Other books that compliment this theme: Bayou Babies, by Jim Arnosky & Bayou Lullabye and other books by Kathi Appelt.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Read Aloud Thursday

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the WordWe're still enjoying Jim Arnosky books this week around these parts and so all of the following titles will be about Arnosky animal books. Gratefully, thankfully, wonderfully, etc., etc., etc., our library has a good stack of Arnosky books available to us and we've enjoyed each and every single one. Check out some of these titles:

Mouse Numbers is a book without words (which I tend to not like) but the story is illustrated well enough to make perfect sense, even to me! ;) Touted as a "very first counting book", we count with a mouse who leaves him home one morning to:

Hop over ONE mushroom, Walk over TWO hills, hop THREE stones in a brook, and so on and so forth through the number ten and all the way back home again! It's very cute and simplistic and makes a child think to count, instead of having the numbers presented to them on a silver platter. Well thought out, this book is!

Big Jim and the White-Legged Moose is based on a true story of Arnosky's in which he found an amazing white-legged moose (surprisingly enough) and wanted to be able to sketch it. Arnosky was able to track his moose, but Big Jim runs into a problem or two and is eventually chased up a tree by this elusive, mysterious and majestic creature. Arnosky set this story to a tune, so you can sing or read it. We read it just fine and found it to be funny.

Grandfather Buffalo was one of our lesser favorites from the story perspective. It is about a, you guessed it!, Grandfather Buffalo who is a little on the aged side and isn't able to keep up with the herd as well as he used to. However, in this story it ends up being a good thing that he falls behind, as he is able to come to the rescue of young cow who was carrying an unborn calf. Together the Grandfather and the cow trail behind the rest of the herd and Grandfather keeps some cowboys at bay to protect the cow. In the end, they are realized as still being a valuable part of the herd, despite their slower pace. There is a good lesson in this book to be sure, it just didn't grab us in the way some of Arnosky's other books did.

Lastly, one that we very much enjoyed was Babies in the Bayou which just SOUNDS like a cool title. It goes easy on the ears and you feel rocked into the rhythm of the Bayou (whatever that rhythm is!). The page spreads flow into one another as the story progresses and you can guess at what animal you are going to hear about next by spotting them on an earlier page. We meet alligator babies, raccoons, turtles and ducklings. This book is gentle and sweet and it opens and concludes very well. This book comes highly recommended by both Bookworm1 and myself!

So what have you and yours been reading aloud this week? Join in the Read Aloud Thursday fun which is graciously hosted by Hope is in the Word every week. It's a great way to discover what books are out there to be discovered at your library!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jim Arnosky Plays in the Water

Continuing our discussions regarding books by Jim Arnosky, check out these titles, all having to do with animals who live in (or very near) the water.

Turtle in the Sea follows a mother sea turtle as she is coming to shore to lay her eggs. This mother has been through a lot and the book focuses not so much on her egg laying, but on her previous adventures which brought her to the shore. She has been caught in nets, attacked by a shark, plowed under a boat and had her shell cracked. This mother sea turtle has led a very amazing life and now the circle of life is continuing by the laying of these eggs. Soon, there will be new baby turtles to explore the great blue sea.

"Tiny flippers to propel them.
Tiny shells protecting.
Tiny eyes to see their world.
Tiny turtles in the sea."

In A Manatee Morning we meet a manatee mother and her baby.

In the Crystal River,
where the water's warm and clean,
something big is moving.
It's a swimming manatee.
This book talks about the fact that manatees are gentle giants and all of the pictures are soft and peaceful. This book is an excellent companion to Sam the Sea Cow, by Francine Jacobs which is a Reading Rainbow book/episode. If you are studying manatees, check out these two picture books as well as the Reading Rainbow episode where LeVar meets some manatees! (So far that particular episode as ranked as one of our favorites.)

Come Out, Muskrats opens in the late afternoon "when the cove becomes calm." Cattails are reflecting in the water and its time for the muskrats to come out of their house (which, of course, is a den in the water). The muskrats are good at "making hay while the sun shines" and enjoy their excursions in the water, racing around those cattails and diving among the lily pads.

"When it gets dark and the birds end their songs -
stay out, muskrats, stay out,
and swim until dawn."

This book has very simple sentence structures so that toddlers are able to dive right on in with the muskrats who have a very funny name, after all, and can be very appealing creatures.

But! The piece de resistance of the books about water animals that we found at our library was Gobble It Up! (A Fun song about Eating.) This story is definitely set to music and it's kind of difficult to read aloud as a story (even though that's what we did because the library's copy of the CD with the music had gone missing - not our fault). It's an awkward read aloud but my son could have cared. less. IT HAD A "PINOCCHIO WHALE" (aka, sperm whale) in it! What more could any child in any universe ever ask for!?!?!

To quote from the book jacket:

"It's supertime in the wild - and the animals are hungry! Clap your hands and sing along with renowed wildlife artist and folk musician Jim Arnosky in this catchy, factual picture book/song that follows animals as they engage in everyone's favorite daily activity - eating!"
I don't know about eating but I SHOULD REMIND YOU THAT IT HAD A PINOCCHIO WHALE *AND* it was EATING A GIANT SQUID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Be still our beating hearts. We have stared in wide-eyed wonder at this book, daily, ever since it came home. Furthermore, we have our toy Pinocchio whale and giant squid available for close inspection and recreation of various eating activities. Brilliant. We highly, HIGHLY, highly recommend this one for the pictures.

Arnosky has several other water animal books but these were the ones on hand at our library for this go around. Now I just have to convince my child to let go of Gobble It Up! so that it can be returned before we incur fines.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rabbits and Raindrops

To return to where we left off last week....I'm highlighting the works of Jim Arnosky. As I mentioned previously, I was so excited to discover an author who is an obvious animal lover, a family man, and a superb illustrator to boot! Looking through his book is a delight and he writes in such a way as to engage the youngest reader with the animal world around them. He does no less in Rabbits & Raindrops which features a mother rabbit and her five youngsters. They are ready to crawl out of their nest for the first time and they eagerly hop about, nibbling clover and meeting grasshoppers until a spring shower rains down on their parade. They hustle back to their nest where they are joined by the animals they met while out and about. A hummingbird joins them, as does a butterfly, all taking refuge in the rabbits nest until the sun breaks through again.

Rabbits & Raindrops is just a really cute book and reminded me of another book that we checked out recently from our library called Where Does the Butterfly Go When It Rains?, by May Garelick. Where Does a Butterfly Go When it Rains? is a great companion title to Rabbits & Raindrops as they both explore the idea of animals taking shelter in rainstorms. Children, of course, get to run indoors but what do the animals do? These two books take a good look at that and if you can check them out from your library at the same time, they explore the theme well for toddler aged kiddoes.

I thought that the second book left a rather open ended question without summarizing well for young readers. However, my son loved it and we read it over and over and over again so who am I to judge? But if I could choose for the "animals in the rain" theme, my vote goes to Arnosky.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year....!

...and there is a lot to do during the months of November and December!

I got a wee bit sidetracked last week and didn't get into as many Arnosky books as I was hoping to so I'll kinda picked up where I left off this coming week.

Also, with the holidays, etc., I think I will give myself a more realistic goal of finishing just the A's by the end of the year. I'm almost there and I can't see any difficulties checking those off the list, but I'll hold off delving into the B's until January.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Yesterday I introduced you (to some extent) to the man, Jim Arnosky. Today I would like to introduce you to Crinkleroot, a Arnosky creation. Crinkleroot is "a friend to all the animals" and his main purpose in his bookish life is to introduce children to some basic animals that they should know about. At the beginning of each Crinkleroot book, we meet our guide. The first page spread consists of a letter from Crinkleroot (whose name, by the way, always makes my son laugh) who tells us about the variety of animals that we are about to meet. The remainder of the book is filled with 25 pictures of particular breeds of animals.

For example, in Crinkleroot's 25 Fish Every Child Should Know, we are introduced to the following:

Goldfish, Carp, Sunfish, Bass, Perch, Trout, Minnow, Sucker, Catfish, etc.

Each fish is illustrated to show off their characteristics and only one word appears by each illustration. It is a simple book of identification for children, a first field guide, if you will.

At the beginning of the book there is also a note from the author which I shall copy in full so that he can explain the purpose of these books to you.

"In his Book of Woodcraft the great naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton listed forty birds that he thought every child should know. Though I disagreed with some of his selections, the listing made me think: How many and which birds should every child know? Which fish? Which mammals? What other animals?

The four books in the series CRINKLEROOT'S 100 ANIMALS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW (Crinkleroot's 25 Birds, 25 Fish, 25 Mammals and 25 More Animals) are intended to provide a base of knowledge of the animal kingdom. I hope my selections will make parents and teachers consider, as Mr. Seton's forty birds made me consider, which other animals should be included." - Jim Armosky

These books are, I think, a fabulous introduction to the world of animals. Each book is opened like a story book but then it moves into a picture book format with detailed and yet simplistic illustrations. It is detailed enough to make it really interesting to an adult and to pick out the individual features of any animal, and yet simple enough to appeal to the smaller child. Awesome books. Check out the whole series if you get a chance!

In addition, here are a few more Crinkleroot books. Our library didn't have these but I can assure you that if I ever come across them, I'm snatching them right up!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jim Arnosky

Behold, the man! Friend of animals and all little children who are completely captivated and fascinated by any creature that can move around but cannot speak.

With great delight I scooped up a whole section of books by Jim Arnosky at the library this past week. Title after title fell into my bag. Manatees, whales, rattlesnakes, rabbits, birds, fish, alligators, etc., etc., etc. My son wasn't with me on this library journey and I delightfully brought my haul home and said, "LOOK IN THE BAG!!!!!!!!!!!"

I got exactly the reaction I was hoping for and so for the remainder of this week we'll be talking about Jim Arnosky.

Things to know about him:

* He photographs animals with a Betacam SP video camcorder with a 1600 mm lens and then sketches what he sees from the images he has captured.

* He lives in an old fashioned (i.e., over 200 year old) farm house in Vermont.

* He has been married for over 28 years to his wife, Deanna. He travels with Deanna when he goes on his wildlife explorations. They have two daughters who live closeby with their families.

* He loves to fish, boat, and play his guitar.

* We think he's so cool!

To learn more about him, visit Jim Arnosky's website.

To see what Jim Arnosky books we found and enjoyed, click on the following links:

* Crinkleroot

* Rabbits & Raindrops

* Jim Arnosky Plays in the Water

* Babies in the Bayou & other books

Friday, November 6, 2009

Children's Book Activities

There are places all over the web that offer good ideas for reading to and with children. However, there are some that are a bit more exceptional than others and I wanted to take a quick second to point them out to you. You might want to bookmark these spots in case you are every looking for an idea or two to share with your kiddoes.

First off, have you looked at Sylvan Dell's website? (I have them linked on the side bar here for easy reference.) They've really been working on updating their site and making it user friendly. They've offered a lot of free resources that you can find on their site. They aren't just about providing quality reading material (although they do that!) but making it useable.

Cool things you can copy and download from their site:

* Animal alphabet cards (for learning the alphabet or for making your own memory game)

* A Plant Matching game (Going on a leaf hunt anytime soon?) that coincides with their book, Countdown to Fall.

* Fun facts about animals that camoflague themselves, as well as an octopus coloring sheet.

* Math problems involving animals

* Information on blackberries with recipes included

* Craft ideas for storytime.

They have a ton of information and resources available so I'd encourage you to browse their site and see what you find! I'm very happy to note that our library has a great many Sylvan Dell titles and we own a few ourselves which makes their website even MORE fun to use. (However, you do not need to have ever read a single one of their books to make use of the resources they offer!)

One last thing - if you are looking for things to do as a family this winter, check out these suggestions from their Editor, Donna German.


Also, if you get a chance you should check out the blog Playing By the Book. I've mentioned her before. She comes up with the coolest craft and interactive ideas to do with children's picture books. For a great idea on a rainy or snowy day, hop on over to Playing By the Book.


Crayola.com is kind of a "messy" site to me. (I like simplistic designs without too many doodads floating about a page.) But that's just a personal preference. They do have a load of free downloadable coloring pages covering just about every topic that would be near and dear to a young child's heart.

* All kinds of holidays
* Puzzles & Games (including dot-to-dot which we are currently huge fans of!)

Lots of stuff to choose from!


I may add to this post later if I find some additional remarkably good resources. If you have a favorite site that you check out for good ideas, let me know about it and I'll link them up!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Read Aloud Thursday

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the WordThis week we've been a bit more on track with our reading and we browsed through the library bag together. We found some books that mommy really liked and some books that Bookworm1 really liked. We also found some that neither of us cared for very much so we browsed past them. Here is a sampling of what we delved into:

Once Upon a Banana, by Jennifer Armstrong had great title appeal. I read the title aloud and Bookworm1 guffawed. Plus, it appeared as if a monkey was going to take the lead as a silly character. The problem for both of us that this was strictly a picture book. I'm very bad at making up stories (something that we've been practicing). We're all for silly stories around here but, well, if we're going to read a book we expect to have one told to us. On each page of Once Upon a Banana we find a banana peel gone wild and creating havoc everywhere it lands. People are slipping and sliding and crashing and barely hanging on in this book. Dogs are running, a monkey is prancing about and chaos is generally all over the place. I can't say this was a favorite but if you like staring at silly pictures you just may like this book. Again, we liked the title.

I was glad to find Turkey Surprise, by Peggy Archer, in our stack. We hadn't yet read any books about Thanksgiving and this is our first year to really introduce Bookworm1 to it. He didn't really tune in to much last year (and being that we got the flu over the holiday and had a rather minor celebration as a result), it was barely a blip on his radar screen. This year I've purposed to do better. While I didn't really mean to start off with a silly book, that's what happened as a result of Turkey Surprise. This book tells the story of two Pilgrim brothers who have been sent out by their parents to catch a Thanksgiving Turkey. The only problem is, the younger son doesn't really want to hurt a turkey and so he's doing his best throughout the story to help the silly turkey run and hide. His missions is altogether successful and if you are vegetarian, well then, I heartily recommend this book to you! For the rest of us turkey lovers, this is still a cute and silly book with a great song/refrain scattered throughout:

"We're two mighty pilgrims
coming your way.
Looking for a turkey
for Thanksgiving Day."

Great fun to sing loudly when you are 3!

Mommy liked Duck, Duck, Goose?, retold and illustrated by Katya Arnold. This is the story about a silly goose who doesn't like anything about herself. She decides she'd be better with a swan's neck and so trades with the swan. She likes the rooster's red plume and his "cock-a-doodle-do" which he gifts her with. She trades her beak with a pelican and swaps tails with a peacock until, lo and behold, she is the craziest bird you ever did see! When she thinks she has reached perfection, she is rather uncerimoniously attacked by a fox and then she discovers that if she had kept all things goose about her, she would have had an easier time getting away. Eventually she discovers that she is best exactly how she was made. I think this book holds a great many good life lessons and certainly was an intriguing and funny way to show how brilliant we were individually created to be. Loved this book.

In a similar vein I also enjoyed reading aloud Heart of a Tiger, by Marsha Diane Arnold (and have added this one to my Amazon wish list!). This book talks about four kittens who are preparing for "naming day." You see, when animals are born they don't name themselves right away. They wait until they find out more of who they are. Four little kittens are charged with having to come up with names for themselves and the littlest and scrawniest of them all wants to have a name befitting a tiger.

Now, I am big on the meaning of names. I think there is something to what you name your children and why. That meaning typically plays through in their life and I think has been true across the ages (and Americans in particular have walked away from). I loved reading this book aloud to Bookworm1 and then talking about his name, what it means, and how we view him and his purpose in life. I know he might not comprehend all of this right now, but I do think he will grow into all of this and that's why I'd like to have this book on hand -- for future discussions!

I really enjoyed this book as being packed with meaning (sorry to keep saying so!) and Bookworm1 enjoyed reading about the cat, the tiger and spotting the occasional rhinos.

A good time was had by all this week and it's been fun reading aloud together! As always, thanks to Amy for hosting this wonderful challenge! To learn more about Read Aloud Thursdays and to link up your own Read Aloud posts, visit Hope is in the Word.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Kind of in contrast to yesterday's post, I thought I'd share some of my absolute favorite finds from the last library haul.

I like these books because:

1. They are unique stories.

2. They are beautifully illustrated.

Both are written by Jennifer Armstrong.

The first book is called Little Salt Lick and the Sun King and it is, as you may have gathered from the title, set at the palace of Versailles under the reign of King Louis XIV. Little Salt Like is the Second Assistant Rotisserie Turner in the Department of Roasted Meats but he didn't really care for the position because the smell that the job left on him caused all of the area dogs to be attracted to him. Because Little Salt Lick was so small, the dogs were not afraid of him and he was, forgive me, quite literally hounded.

Then one day the king's dog, Chou-Chou went missing. The king was in an uproar and everyone was searching high and low for the missing pooch. Of course, you can guess who manages to find the dog and why. As a reward, Little Salt Lick receives a promotion to First Assistant Bearer of the King's Dog.

This is a very well-told story and, again, beautifully illustrated by Jon Goodell. I personally love historical fiction and I'm glad to find it in the form of chidlren's picture books.

Now for the next title, which I'm even more wildly excited about...

Pockets doesn't start out with "Once upon a time" but it might as well. A 'slim schooner of a woman' shows up unannounced in a small seaside town. She can't say where she comes from and the townsfolk weren't sure whether or not they wanted to take her in as charity. They ask her if she has the ability to sew and she replies that she could sew and embroider many fine things.

The only problem was that the people of this town were simple folk, wearing gray clothes and nothing at all that would bring attention to themselves. In fact, their whole town reflected this attitude of dreariness and the mysterious lady submits herself to plain boredom for the sake of having a place to live.

Although she has been told to sew nothing fancy, she begins to embroider the inside of their pockets with dreams and beautiful things and whatever magic exists in those pockets begins to take hold of the people's attitude. Before too much longer, the town is completely reformed and the colors that Mary Grandpre uses to illustrated the change are magnificent! Sparkling jewels, seashells, bright blues and sparkling gold colors are used to create a feast for the reader's eyes.

Fantastically beautiful story telling and illustration combined for one not-to-be-missed book!

I've never heard of Pockets before (and maybe you have!) but I'm grateful for the discovery of it. It is, simply stated, wonderful!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The World is Filled with Idioms

I think Tedd Arnold must be one popular guy because my library was out of a few of his titles. I had to content myself with the second and third book in his "parts" series which are well-above Bookworm1's head and yet....not above it at all. These books are all about idioms and my literal son is constantly catching me using them! Therefore I snickered through these books alone and think they would be perfect for ages 6+. These books revolve around a kid who freaks out because people are always saying things like, "I'll bet that broke your heart" and "Please give me a hand." Do hearts really and truly break? Are hands removable?! That's what he's asking and he'd sure like to know!

More Parts read like your typically story book with a variety of well-known and overused phrases were mentioned.

Even More Parts read more like a comic book with each page giving an image to reflect the following statements:

* I lost my head.
* I keep changing my mind.
* I want all eyes on me!
* My nose is running
* It cost an arm and a leg.
* I had to pay through my nose.

All of these and more are delightfully displayed for the young, curious and literal mind.

I've learned to be a bit more careful what phrases I pop off before using around my two year old. I've always thought little people have overused the word, "Why?" Not my son. He's never asked me "Why" once! Instead, he prefers to ask, "What does that mean?" and he asks with some frequency!

If I thought he could comprehend that there were just silly things that people said, I would introduce him to these books now. However, I think we'd best hold off for a few years when he can get a better chuckle out of them.